(image via flickr user stevegarfield)
What’s your “bedtime?” No you didn’t grow out of it, I bet you still have a time you think you “should” get to bed by. We all have these sets of rules we follow day in and day out. Rules are good because they add structure in guidance to your life. They let you run on autopilot a lot of times based on the routines you created within them. But rules also can be dangerous. They can wall you off from a place you are trying to go, or even worse pin you between a rock and a hard place. Sometimes it’s important to really sit down and think, “what are my rules?”
I was recently asked to do this by a friend who has been coaching and encouraging me, and the results were fascinating. I realized that I have strange rules about work, rules that can be helpful to a point but are more often a burden. For example, I’m fortunate to have a very flexible work schedule. I do need to be available during “normal” business hours for phone calls and a few timely emails, but for the most part I can do the majority of my work at anytime since it’s of the digital variety. Yet for some reason I have set in my mind that I “need” to be working from at least 8am to 5pm M-F. This doesn’t make any sense at all. Part of my entrepreneurial drive comes from a belief that there’s so much opportunity in overcoming the “norm” (ie 9-5 workday). In my head I believe that people have different productive schedules, with some preferring to work late nights while others prefer to be early birds, some prefer to take big midday breaks, and some like to leave work at noon. It doesn’t really matter what your schedule is as long as you are able to successfully complete your tasks. Yet here I am following the industrial workday schedule because sometime in the past I equated working to be in “work” mode on certain hours and days. Part of this rule, which I believe I added to in college sometime, is work is defined as sitting at a computer making phone calls and writing emails, with an occasional meeting mixed in. It’s amazing that my body knows and follows these rules, and it’s even more amazing when I “break” them (going to gym midday, taking a day off, etc) I feel “bad.” A rule would be useless, without an enforcer. This is an example of a rule that is good to a certain extent. Afterall, I do have a lot of flexibilty in my schedule and the rule helps keep things in order. No matter what my rules, I could never define “work” as watching TV all day. This keeps me away from that. But the rule does more harm than good. It prevents me from loving and living in the very best of my current situation: freedom.
What sort of rules have you set for yourself? Take some time to write them out, and then really think about them. Are there some holding you back? Why? It might be time to let them go, break your own rules by making new ones and use them to take you where you want to go.